The Grandsons

Party with the Rich

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The swing revival of the late '90s may have passed, but Washington, D.C.'s the Grandsons are still at it, as lead singer/main songwriter/guitarist Alan MacEwen and his partners, saxophonist Chris Watling and percussionist Matt Sedgley (with a revolving door of guest bass players) continue to purvey their brand of club-friendly pop/rock, jump blues, and rockabilly on their fifth self-released album. MacEwen is an incurable pun and wordplay addict, which makes the band seem all that more of a novelty act. On the album's title and leadoff track, he celebrates the joys of having wealthy companions to relax with, boldly declaring, "I don't care what my friends at Greenpeace say." (The song should turn out to be as much of a tongue-in-cheek tribute to George W. Bush's second term as Timbuk 3's "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" was to Reagan's second term.) In MacEwen's terms, "Hip Replacement" has more to do with attitude than anatomy, something you might need if, like him, you find yourself going to "a writers' block party." Even when he's taking on as melancholy a subject as the loss of his girlfriend, MacEwen can't resist witty asides, noting in "Weekly World Blues," "I should have seen our breakup coming, yeah, I know/Nostradamus predicted it 500 years ago." These observations are set to a variety of familiar roots rock styles that no doubt keep the joints jumping in the greater D.C. area whenever the Grandsons play. But MacEwen's songwriting talent suggests that it is past time this band should be known beyond its immediate stomping grounds.

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